GOV 335M • Classical Quest for Justice
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. This course introduces students to classical political thought through a study of some of the seminal works of Greek antiquity. We will begin by focusing on Plato's presentation of Socrates, the figure whose famous investigations of moral and political questions gave birth to political philosophy in its classical form. After reading Plato's Apology of Socrates, we will turn to Plato's Republic, one of the earliest and yet most profound works ever written on the question of justice and the nature of politics. We will then study Aristotle's Ethics and Politcs, examining Aristotle's vision of happiness, human excellence, and political life. Throughout the course we will reflect on issues such as the demands of justice, the character of human nature, and the relationship between politics and other aspects of human life (e. g., economics, the family, friendship, and philosophy). We will also consider whether ancient thought can provide an alternative perspective from which we can gain a deeper appreciation of what is distinctive about modern political life.
Grades will be based on a midterm, a final exam, one essay, and several in-class quizzes on the readings. Class participation will also be taken into account.
Plato, Four Texts on Socrates (Cornell) Plato, The Republic of Plato (Basic Books) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (Prentice Hall, Library of Liberal Arts) Aristotle, The Politics of Aristotle (North Carolina)